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When Momma Speaks: The Bible and Motherhood from a Womanist Perspective

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Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder provides an engaging womanist reading of mother characters in the Old and New Testaments. After providing a brief history of womanist biblical interpretation, she shows how the stories of several biblical mothersHagar, Rizpah, Bathsheba, Mary, the Canaanite woman, and Zebedee's wifecan be powerful sources for critical reflection, identification, Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder provides an engaging womanist reading of mother characters in the Old and New Testaments. After providing a brief history of womanist biblical interpretation, she shows how the stories of several biblical mothersHagar, Rizpah, Bathsheba, Mary, the Canaanite woman, and Zebedee's wifecan be powerful sources for critical reflection, identification, and empowerment. Crowder also explores historical understandings of motherhood in the African American community and how these help to inform present-day perspectives. She includes questions for discussion with each chapter.


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Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder provides an engaging womanist reading of mother characters in the Old and New Testaments. After providing a brief history of womanist biblical interpretation, she shows how the stories of several biblical mothersHagar, Rizpah, Bathsheba, Mary, the Canaanite woman, and Zebedee's wifecan be powerful sources for critical reflection, identification, Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder provides an engaging womanist reading of mother characters in the Old and New Testaments. After providing a brief history of womanist biblical interpretation, she shows how the stories of several biblical mothersHagar, Rizpah, Bathsheba, Mary, the Canaanite woman, and Zebedee's wifecan be powerful sources for critical reflection, identification, and empowerment. Crowder also explores historical understandings of motherhood in the African American community and how these help to inform present-day perspectives. She includes questions for discussion with each chapter.

30 review for When Momma Speaks: The Bible and Motherhood from a Womanist Perspective

  1. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Through various Biblical references and stories of both Old and New Testament women, Stephanie Buckhahnon Crowder creates a marvelously informative study, in WHEN MOMMA SPEAKS, The Bible And Motherhood from a Womanist Perspective. Crowder effectively delves into the stories of Hagar, Bathsheba, Mary, Rezpah, The Woman from Canaan, and Zebedee’s wife and presents them in the context and relationship to contemporary African American women. Crowder encourages readers to look through a different len Through various Biblical references and stories of both Old and New Testament women, Stephanie Buckhahnon Crowder creates a marvelously informative study, in WHEN MOMMA SPEAKS, The Bible And Motherhood from a Womanist Perspective. Crowder effectively delves into the stories of Hagar, Bathsheba, Mary, Rezpah, The Woman from Canaan, and Zebedee’s wife and presents them in the context and relationship to contemporary African American women. Crowder encourages readers to look through a different lens, view the Biblical women with parallel not only to themselves, but to women of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. This book speaks to all and enables readers to identify the role of mothers not only in Biblical times, but more importantly how contemporary society scrutinizes and identifies the role of mothers of racial difference. When Momma Speaks opens a dialogue and reveals discourse that is greatly needed and necessary to bridge the racial divide we face today. By listening to the stories of both ancient and modern day women, we can learn and understand so many things. Five cups of Relativi-TEA accompanied with a heart shaped layer cake.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert D. Cornwall

    History has tended to be written by and focused on men. When we read Scripture we tend to focus on the male characters, but perhaps we're missing something important. There are stories in the Bible that have messages that can speak to us today that feature women. It is important then that we listen to voices that can reveal these stories for us. "When Momma Speaks" is an expression of Womanist biblical scholarship. For those unfamiliar with "Womanist" scholarship, it is a theological perspective History has tended to be written by and focused on men. When we read Scripture we tend to focus on the male characters, but perhaps we're missing something important. There are stories in the Bible that have messages that can speak to us today that feature women. It is important then that we listen to voices that can reveal these stories for us. "When Momma Speaks" is an expression of Womanist biblical scholarship. For those unfamiliar with "Womanist" scholarship, it is a theological perspective that is both feminist and rooted in the African American experience. In recent years we have discovered that too often scholarship has been done with the assumption that a white male perspective is normative, and that this vision is limited. We've learned that theology and biblical interpretation is contextual, and by contextual we mean not only the original text, but the interpreter's context. For a Womanist biblical scholar, like Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, there are stories that speak to her experience that I might miss. In "When Momma Speaks," Crowder introduces us to characters we've encountered but likely haven't heard as we might. This is a book that speaks to the question of motherhood in Scripture and in the African-American experience. The author speaks from a specific social location, that of a "mother, professor, wife, scholar, and preacher." In this book she brings both her experience as a scholar and as a mother into conversation. Crowder's book is divided into three parts. Part One sets the stage by introducing the reader to what it means to be an African American Mother. That is, she introduces us to her own social location. In chapter two she introduces us to Womanist Maternal Thought, by which she means exploring the ways in which "race, class, and gender identity impact the lives of African American mothers" (p. 17). Thus, she moves deeper into explicating the social location. Finally, in chapter three she introduces us to Womanist biblical scholarship. Such scholarship is contextual, it brings gender, race, and class into the conversation, it is confrontational, and finally it's not monolithic. The chapter itself introduces us this variety. The core of the book is found in Part Two, where she explores six specific stories. Each of these stories focuses on a mother who must wrestle with context. She begins with Hagar, whom she reveals to us as a homeless mother. Thus, she is a person whose experience can help us wrestle with the reality faced by homeless mothers. We learn about Rizpah, the concubine/wife of Saul whose children are killed by David's soldiers, along with others of Saul's family. She puts her life on the line to weep for and protect the bodies of the lost children. She is a reminder to us of the childless mother, the one who grieves over a child taken from her by violence, including police violence. There is the story of Bathsheba, not the story of the woman who is brought to David, but the mother of Solomon who works to get her son a place on the throne, making her a "fearless Mother. Crowder then moves to Mary, the mother of Jesus, the "favor(less) mother," whose story parallels other teen mothers, but in her case having the wise counsel of Elizabeth. But Mary's maternal experience can take away the stigma of teen motherhood. There is the story of the Canaanite Woman, who is an example of a relentless mother, as she seeks healing from Jesus of her child. Finally there is Zebedee's wife, whom she speaks of as the shameless mother in her determination to make sure that her two sons get a good spot in Jesus' realm. In each of these chapters, Crowder introduces us to the original context and then suggests how that life is paralleled today. This is really insightful scholarship, that makes connection with the present. Finally in Part three she asks "Where Do We Go From Here?" She speaks of this book as being an "appetizer," offered in the hope that others will pick up the work she has begun here. She notes tat she began with Hagar because it is the story of "maternal displacement." It is a story that connects with contemporary issues of surrogacy and homelessness faced by African American mothers. Each story does something else to help us understand contemporary experience. She writes that her ultimate hope is that the book "will encourage readers to not only pay attention to the way the biblical texts portray motherhood, but also to scrutinize society's present treatment of mothers" (p. 109). Such is what she does with great skill One thing I learned a long time ago, though I still find myself needing to relearn, is that when it comes to biblical scholarship, theology, and life itself, it's important to listen to one another's stories. It is important to remember that we come at life from specific social locations, and we read the Bible in the same way. I am a white male. I represent the group that has dominated biblical scholarship for centuries. We still do it, but fortunately we have interpreters who can bring another perspective to our attention. Crowder does this quite well. She also writes in such a way that the book is accessible to the general reader. There is a set of discussion questions at the end of each chapter making this an ideal book for study in small groups. Take and read.

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    Austin Spence

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